Women in Games launches a manifesto against toxicity and harassment

The manifesto touches upon the important subjects like toxicity against girls and women players online and sexual harassment at major corporate events, along with discrimination in the workplace.

UK-based not-for-profit organization Women in Games launched a 14-point manifesto, which is deeply rooted in the spirit of the suffragist movement and embodies the collective resolve of Women in Games to promote fairness and gender equality in the games and esports sectors.

Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman explains the importance of the Manifesto’s launch, saying:

“50% of the world’s population is women, 50% of players of video games across the world are women and girls, yet only approximately 23% of those who work in the games industry are women.

Women working in the industry are less likely to be in game development and programming roles and less likely to be in senior positions. And only a few studios are owned and run by women. 

There are serious challenges in the games sector, with toxicity against girls and women players online and sexual harassment at major corporate events, along with discrimination in the workplace. 

72% of female players experience toxicity online with girls and women encountering dark and threatening behaviours – often being aggressively quizzed about their gaming skills, which often leads to more violent verbal abuse and threats of rape.

Women and girls are detrimentally affected by these harmful actions and environments. And, along with the negative press that follows, this affects their mental wellbeing and discourages girls and women from pursuing an education or career in games. 

This picture needs urgently repainting. The time for change is now.” 

According to the long-running Female Gamers Survey (Bryter), such toxicity is on the rise, and as a result, women gamers are often discouraged from playing the games they love. 72% of female gamers experience toxicity in gaming, often of a dark and threatening kind; even more disturbingly, the abuse doesn’t always stop once players leave the game – some instances manifest into serious consequences outside of gaming. In the 2022 Bryter survey, 1 in 4 women stated they are reluctant to identify as a real gamer, and just 38% of female gamers feel that there are adequate processes in place to deal with toxicity in gaming. 

Allegations of discrimination against women working in games and esports have continued to emerge this year – globally and within small studios and large multinational businesses. Beyond single companies or individual events, such as at the most recent in-person Game Developers Conference, there is a prevalent culture that enables unacceptable behavior towards women, which at its worst, includes physical threats and harassment. 

Women’s representation in the game development community remains extremely low in comparison to their employment across the wider world of work – GDC’s 2022 report revealed it has declined to 20%. Other research, such as that conducted by Ukie, would suggest that in the UK, it is as high as 30%, although a lack of granular understanding of the specific roles that women play across disciplines and levels makes it impossible to understand their true involvement. 

The manifesto can be read on Women in Games website.

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